At the heart of what marketing agencies do is find solutions to challenges their clients present to them. Every client has a problem or a challenge – otherwise, they would be content with the status quo. The problem with being comfortable with the status quo is that the rest of the world will leave you behind and your company will soon find itself being irrelevant.
No company can thrive unless they are continuously evolving and adapting to the ever-changing market, customer attitudes, and competitive pressures.
Call it a problem or a challenge, but companies are at point A and they need to get to point B - whether it’s a brand challenge, customer acquisition strategy, or coming up with new ideas. Often, companies come to an agency with either a predetermined notion of what they need, such as a new website or they just want a solution such as, “more sales.” The worst thing an agency can do is to just say yes. Whether the agency is full service or specializes in a certain field, the temptation to apply their expertise and get the work started, often overrides the requirement to get curious, assess the situation, and understand the core challenge before presenting a potential approach to a solution.
At the heart of solving any challenge is curiosity, objectiveness, and critical thinking.
Regardless of the challenge, the fundamental process has three basic steps:
Investigate - Why? Defining the challenge is the first step and often the most difficult. Asking why, what if, or how might we, is a great place to start. Search for the root cause. Clearly articulate the problem or challenge you are solving for. Try not to combine a number of challenges together. This gets everyone on the same page and establishes a conversation and a common goal.
Illuminate - What? Now it’s time to get smart. Ask yourself these four questions. What information do you need to solve the challenge? What do you know? What don’t you know? And how will you fill those gaps? This can be done by simply creating 4 columns with each of these questions at the top. Research leads to insights. Insights provide the clarity and focus - they help tell the story as well as arming you with the information you need to develop a strategy or plan on how to get from point A to point B.
Integrate - How? The plan now needs to be put into action. The details matter here – this is the step where the tactics are developed. It includes the specific actions, along with timing, budget, metrics, and responsibilities that ladder up to the strategy. It may sound strange, but often, many companies will start here and entirely skip the first two steps. If they succeed, it may have just been luck.
What’s truly awesome about beginning with a curious mind and then letting the process lead you to the answer is that you will find new possibilities and solutions that you may have never discovered. At our firm, this is what we love more than anything – knowing that in the process of working with our clients, we will not only find a way to solve their challenge, but discover new possibilities, inspiration, and entirely new ideas as an outcome of the process.
Your plan is like a journey, and while your company or team is travelling down the path, the terrain will change and you will discover new or different things along the way. Unlike in physics, the most direct path from point A to point B is not necessarily a straight line. So, be ready to adjust as needed, but never lose focus of the objective.